Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has initiated the establishment of Internet Industry Code of Practice as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s cyber space against cyber threats and attacks.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ consultation forum in Abuja at the weekend, Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said the Commission, in accordance with its mandate to regulate the communications sector in Nigeria as expressed in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, set out to establish the Internet Code of Practice to clearly define the rights and obligations of Internet Access Service Providers, put measures in place that would safeguard and protect minors, vulnerable audience and consumers in general.
Danbatta represented by Yetunde Akinloye, NCC’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Services, underscored the need to secure Nigeria’s cyber space against imminent threats, including online child protection, privacy and data protection, objectionable content and traffic management practices.
He noted that the global perspective is that the internet be open and unregulated to foster creativity and increase access, adding that the propositions are for either self-regulation or government regulation (in repressive economies) as both have their advantages and disadvantages.
He stressed the need for co-regulatory efforts as it relates to the internet in Nigeria, hence the need for extensive public consultation and incorporation of the stakeholders’ feedback into the final document of the Internet Industry Code of Practice.
While commenting on the benefits and disadvantages of the Internet, Danbatta said: “The Internet was designed to facilitate communication across different networks and jurisdictions.
“The liberalisation of the industry and rate of evolution in mobile telecommunications has led to an increase in the use and dependence on the solutions/services that ride on it; it is a key driver of innovation and technological advancement.
“It is important to know that Sub-Saharan Africa loses 0.07-0.20 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to cyber-crimes as stated by the Internet Society.”
In Nigeria, he explained that, “The advent of the Internet and the opportunity it provides is enormous and this has enabled significant socio-economic developments in the country, leading to growth in the communications industry.
“So far, the percentage contribution of telecoms industry to GDP is 10.43per cent as of second quarter of 2018.
“With these developments, come the challenge of safety, security and harnessing the benefits of the internet for good governance and better user experience.”
Therefore, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC urged the stakeholders to take full advantage of the opportunity the forum had presented to ensure that the objectives of the Code of Practice were achieved, adding that everyone was expected to adopt the Code as it would be reviewed as developments unfold in the industry.
Also speaking, Mr. Destiny Amana, President of Nigeria Internet Group, lauded the initiative of the Nigerian Communications Commission, adding that there was still a lot to be done.
He expressed optimism that the Code of Practice would reduce the nagging issue of internet fraud, as well as protect the younger ones from dangers associated with the use of internet.
Amana revealed that on assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari had wanted to stop the issuing of licences by NCC to Internet Access Service Providers. This development, according to him, led to the setting up of Steering Committee to guide the president on the right path.
Other critical stakeholders in the forum stressed the need for government to take stringent measures to protect young Nigerians against pornography and other unwholesome practices on the internet as well as put in place stronger punitive measures for perpetrators and offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.